LLers vie for state championship
The team that will represent New Hampshire at the Little League New England Regional in Bristol, Conn., will be decided in a best-of-three series between Goffstown and Portsmouth.
The games will be played at Donati Field in Hooksett on Saturday and Sunday at 1:30 p.m.If a third game is needed it will be played Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.
Both teams enter the series undefeated in tournament play. Goffstown tore through the District One’s double elimination tournament, scoring 62 runs and allowing 19 in five games.
Portsmouth went 10-0 in the District Two round robin. It scored 92 runs while allowing just 26.
“We are a pitching and defense team, but our scoring has a little way to go,” said Portsmouth coach Kyle Griffin. “There is some pop there but we have to get on the same page.”
Griffin’s top hurlers are Timm Kutzer and Calvin Hewett. The duo should see the lion’s share of action this series.
“They have great command of the strike zone, great off speed pitches,” said Griffin “They have great confidence on the mound and they don’t get rattled.”
“Our team has faced a lot of good pitchers and have fared well. So were excited to face Portsmouth,” said Jim Hujsack, president of Goffstown Junior Baseball.
Hujsack feels his team has the balance needed to win it all. “The kids are all doing great at the plate,” said Hujsack. “Everyone is hitting the ball, not just a few kids.”
His son, Connor Hujsak, and Derek Steckowych hit multiple home runs in their tournament.
“We also have five solid pitchers. It’s a strength of ours,” said Hujsack. “You need depth if the series goes to three games. ”
Portsmouth Little League has a long history of success. It won the state title to advance to Bristol six times since 2000.
Its best season came in 2006 when it advanced to the U.S. semifinals, where it fell to Columbus, Ga., the eventual World Series champion.
“The last two or three years that run kind of stalled,” said Griffin. “I’m hoping this team brings that pride back that we can contend every year.”
Goffstown made it to Williamsport back in 2000 but went 0-3 in pool play. More recently in 2011 Goffstown went undefeated in the round robin round in Bristol, only to fall in the semis.
“I think there are a lot of similarities between that (2011) team and ours,’’ said Hujsack. “That team got hitting from almost anywhere in the order, something we’re doing now.”
Griffin thinks his squad has a few advantages going into this final series. For one, Portsmouth plays on a 225-foot field. The fences at Donati are just under 200 feet away from home plate.
“We have 7-8 kids who can hit it out of of our home field so I think it benefits us to play on a shorter field,” said Griffin.
“We played 4 or 5 close games in the round robin which I think will help us against Goffstown, who blew everyone out,” said Griffin. “It also benefits us that the District Two tournament is a round robin and plays more games. It gave us more time to gel as a team.”